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Terror laws must be carefully considered and not rushed through Parliament

Speeches in Parliament
Penny Wright 24 Sep 2014

Senator WRIGHT (South Australia) (15:43): Mr President, I seek leave to make a short statement. This legislation contains substantive changes to the current system in Australia-some long-held legal values and some liberties. It is interesting. I certainly agree that there needs to be consideration about the balance to be struck between national security and protecting Australia's citizens from threat, including terrorism, and the fundamental freedoms and the very nature of our democratic society. That should be above politics. It is a balance that needs to be struck very carefully. Unfortunately, referring this matter to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security will mean that members of this parliament will be excluded from being able to participate in that inquiry.

It is obviously very important that the implications and consequences of this legislation are thoroughly scrutinised and that there is opportunity-not only for the community, which will be affected by these legal changes, to have input but also representatives of the community in this parliament need to participate and be represented in the inquiry.

Of course, at the moment the PJCIS has only members of the government and the opposition on it. There are no representatives of the Australian Greens, there are no representatives of crossbenches or of other political parties. So, it is extremely disappointing that, unlike having a referral to a committee whereby all senators can participate and can look at the legislation, ask questions and satisfy themselves that this balance that is so important for Australian democracy is being appropriately struck, they will not be able to have input and participate in this inquiry. So it is absolutely crucial that the legislation is thoroughly scrutinised and is not rushed through with undue haste, and certainly that legal commentators, who understand the implications of these changes, have the ability to have adequate input as well.

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